On February 7, 1968, Bernard Josephs returns to his home in Bromley, England, and finds his wife Claire dead under the bed. Her throat had been slashed and wounds to her hands appeared to be caused by a serrated knife. No weapon was found at the scene, and police had no other clues to go on.
Law enforcement first pinned down the time and circumstances of the crime. Ingredients of a meal that Claire had been preparing were still in a bowl in the kitchen. There was no sign of forced entry into the house and a half-empty cup of coffee was left out on the table. Investigators were fairly certain that a friend or acquaintance had dropped by while Claire was making dinner and so they began to concentrate on family and friends. One of the people the police questioned was Roger Payne, a recent acquaintance of the Josephs, who had a prior criminal record for attacks on women. Police discovered several scratches on his hands, which Payne described as coming from a recent fight with his wife. Police then began to focus on forensic evidence found on Payne's clothing. Claire Josephs had been wearing a cerise woolen dress at the time of her murder. Although Payne's clothing had been laundered, the seams and hems still contained over 60 cerise wool fibers matching Josephs' dress. Investigators then examined Payne's car and found traces of blood matching Josephs' blood type, as well as additional clothing fibers. Because of this evidence Payne was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. While DNA evidence has captured the public's imagination in recent years, and is a powerful crime-solving tool, basic fiber and blood tests remain the backbone of forensic investigation. They are reliable, relatively inexpensive, and easy for lay people to understand.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. The book can be purchased at Amazon through the following link: